Dirty Projectors at Beachland Ballroom: Concert Review

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The Dirty Projectors' output is a fairly mixed bag. I hopped on the train with the release of 2009's Bitte Orca, and started working my way through the catalog at that point. Lots of high points, to be sure; lots of "meh," as well.

Last night was my first time seeing the band live, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. The multifaceted nature of their songs translated pretty well to the stage, and Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle's harmonies worked wonders (much like in the studio.)

The setlist expectedly drew mostly from the band's latest album, which I've been slowly warming up to. Interestingly, the band seemed really pumped up to dig into the Bitte Orca material. "No Intention" was an absolute highlight, featuring Coffman and frontman David Longstreth jamming out the song via a beautiful, lilting outro.

One thing that really took me aback (and feel free to comment on this, in particular, below) was the suuuper-sloooowed-doooown take on "Useful Chamber." For a band that's already goofing around with time signatures at nearly every bend in the melody, it seemed bizarre to morph such a climactic tune into what I perceived as a bit of a jangly mess. I mean, the chorus cry of David Longstreth's "Bitte Orca! Orca Bitte!" is a HUGE moment in that song and on that album. Instead of triumph, however, the band kinda shuffled into a choppy rhythm and forced this new version through the speakers.

Nonetheless, the encore (and the whole show, really) was terrific. Coffman led the band back onstage with a teaser of Bone Thugs' "Cleveland is the City." It was... lightheartedly weird and, somehow, noble. Longstreth also appeased a front-row fan by relaying a local mantra: "Go Browns!" It was unclear whether he knew who or what the Browns are, but, hey, we all like to be humored. "Stillness is the Move," toward the very end of the night, hit at just the right time, giving everyone reason to dance (though most didn't).

In the end, the show rekindled my interest in the band. When Swing Lo Magellan dropped, I had to admit that I was beginning to drift away. It didn't have the power of the previous album (and those were the songs that really rocked my socks at the gig). Last night's show, though, reeled me in once again.

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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